"That's what we are trying to find out," Nurarihyon treaded cautiously.
The irate Arahabaki is a positive thing. There is an advantage to have a god on their side. Nurarihyon crossed his shaky fingers in hope. However, telling Ahabaraki more could be suicide for the yōkai world.
He is too erratic. Once some of the millennia old pent up fury was released, there will be no reasoning. Even Taira-no-Masakado won't escape a full on war with Arahabaki.
The other gods will turn a blind eye to the yōkai if Arahabaki decide to go on a genocidal rampage. Better the yōkai than them. That's something Nurarihyon could foretell.
"Don't fool around with me, old one," Arahabaki's eyes narrowed as he grasped Nurarihyon's collar tight, almost lifting him from the ground.
"It is more threatening to the ghosts than yōkai or you," Nurarihyon said as calmly as his own nerves could manage.
"IZANAMI," Ahabaraki growled. "THE MENTION OF THAT PISSES ME OFF."
"I don't know what goes on between gods," Nurarihyon mumbled.
"Well, let me tell you a story then." Arahabaki's lips curved upwards. That was no smile. It reeked of peril.
"They tried to use THAT THING against me."
"Perhaps we can work together." Nurarihyon took his chances. "I can bring you to see the others."
From Nurarihyon's memory, Arahabaki used to be a mighty serpent god, indeed more so than Yamata no Orochi.
The current dragon god system was part of the wholesale brainwashing scheme of the Yamato gods to assimilate and manipulate the other gods.
Except for Ōwatatsumi, the Great Dragon of the surrounding seas and oceans, and the Sumiyoshi, most were serpents originally.
Nurarihyon kept mum about this for centuries, so not to arouse the wrath of the victors. He did not want to follow in the footsteps of Yamata-no-Orochi.
"Well, considering that you are one of our old Tohoku spirits… I might consider." Arahabaki loosened his tight grip.
He was not some stone god, wolf god, steel god, god of travellers or even god of feet. The demotions to arbitrary roles have repeatedly humiliated Arahabaki. He was an old guardian serpent god, as ancient as the land itself.
Once a benevolent defender against disasters and a protector of his people, Arahabaki is now a vast bubbling bottomless cauldron of savage hostility stewing in malevolence and resentment. All these reasons combined made him the extreme opposite end of what he was.
Before they wiped the Emishi out in Tohoku, it was known as Hitakami-no-Kuni to the Yamato. Current day Iwate prefecture was the indigenous ground of Arahabaki's people. An entire civilization there had venerated him so much that they named their culture and even Kingdom after him - Arahabaki.
The god had fought fearlessly against the pillaging hordes of the Yamato forces under the protection of their gods, in a stand with his people. Until every one of them, man, child, and woman, were slaughtered in cold blood or enslaved in front of him.
Villages burned for nights while screams of grief, loss, and pain reverberated through the mountains. The Kingdom of Arahabaki was not the only one to fall. One by one the other northern habitats fell to the sweeping invasions which led to Yamato's unification of current Japan.
Nurarihyon understood Arahabaki. Nurarihyon himself wept in sorrow when he witnessed the aftermath in his own area - lifeless bodies butchered mercilessly in the villages. They did not spare babies. The very villages where he habitually raided were silent or scorched to the ground with charred bodies.
Defenceless against the Yamato cavalries, most of the Emishi stood no chance and were systematically exterminated by marauding forces. Like vermin. Worse of all, some defected and aided the invaders.
"Always glad to help our old god," Nurarihyon said.
The other gods can go fuck themselves, since no one answered to his pleas at their shrines. Not even a yes or a no. The mere mention of Izanami-no-Mikoto's name was enough to make most flee.
Arahabaki will do for now. If not, Kuro will have little choice than to contact Death, which is the last resort.
Nurarihyon had sent us a message to wait at the Dojo. Something about finding the solution with no need for me to intercede with Death. Heck, anything is better than dealing with the grumpy blackish old fog.
Although the solution came in the incongruous form of a young slender punk with reddish hair who looked no older than me. Give or take, with the deceptive appearance of the early 20s in human form. Branded punk wear. Leather jacket with the chains around his jeans. And those doc martens. Familiarity reeks contempt somehow.
Daija was shifting about uncomfortably on his appearance. One stare from the guy and Daija froze, not from fright. There was a spell woven over him. Before I could step in, Nurarihyon quickly shook his head.
The greenish glow in the newcomer's eyes was strange. Whoever this guy was, he smelled ancient.
He and Nurarihyon were going back and forth in a recognizable language, like the one which dad had used once in a while conversing with guest yōkai. A dead one.
The newcomer kept glancing at me occasionally. Don't mind me, Zoo exhibit A. Daija was clearly immobilised.
"Yamata-no-Orochi of Izumo," the newcomer addressed me. "You are his daughter?"
"Yes, and you know my father?" I asked in bewilderment.
"Yes. I knew him very well. Truth be told," the young man said, "Yamata-no-Orochi has to be one heck of a principled serpent to fight against Susanoo."
Is he right in the head? The way he spoke in praise of dad yet vehemence towards Susanoo's name. Does he hold a grievance against the god who sealed my father?
He paused and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Your name?"
"Kuro," I replied. "And yours?"
"Kuro, don't be ru…" Nurarihyon was cut off.
The newcomer stopped him with a raised hand. "Arahabaki."
OH HELL NO. Death is much easier to deal with Arahabaki. This is the Emishi god who took on the Yamato gods of Takamagahara and fought like there was no tomorrow. That incident affected both the mortal and yōkai realm.
Then again, when the gods fight, nothing ever turns out fine.
The effects of their war culminated in the steady occurrence of earthquakes, eruptions, diseases, famine, pestilence incidents during those formative years of the first Yamato incursions into the old Dewa, Mutsu and Echigo provinces - now the six Tohoku prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata.
The first to come was the fatal 684 Hakuho earthquake along the Nankai trough, together with a corresponding earthquake in the Tokai trough. Damn major fault lines. That happened after the successful northern campaign against the Emishi of Dewa province.
The former capital of Asura was badly damaged. The resulting tsunami affected even Ise province, stronghold of the Yamato gods, as well as cultivated land in the neighbouring Kii peninsula.
Well, the Deity of Calamity had his fun in wreaking havoc during the upheaval, while the other gods were too busy warring with Arahabaki to give a fuck about the mortal world.
A wry smile appeared on his face. "Do I startle you?"
Who me? Yes. Very much - reputation wise. Plus the powerful presence. It did not help that he seemed to size me up.
"No," I lied.
"Interesting… your friend here is in dread," Arahabaki glanced at Daija. "Well, no grudges. At least, you returned to what you are. Not some dragon fluff they have there."
There is some history going on here which I don't know of. Daija had hardly spoken of his past to me. What dragon fluff? With that, Daija could slowly move away from Arahabaki.
"Well, we all have the same goal. We want this sender to be caught," Arahabaki spoke.
"Yes, we do," Nurarihyon said. "It threatens our ghosts."
"I don't care what it threatens, I hate text spam. Jeez. Up north, my iPhone doesn't go off like it does in Tokyo," he grumbled.
"Well, you don't come here often," Nurarihyon muttered.
"Have a few shrines consecrated to me here. There's a Kingyoryujin shrine in Shibuya that houses me in their rear shrine. Dragon fluff. I don't like Tokyo. Too many of those gods' presence, overcrowding of humans and too little nature going on. Unlike the old Musashi plains it was before the Edo period," Arahabaki mentioned.
Something true which they could all agree to. Greater Tokyo is the most packed metropolitan area on Earth, along with its concrete jungles. Over 25% of the Japanese population lived in the greater area and around 10% in the main metropolitan area.
"So what are you planning to do," I asked Arahabaki.
"Hunt, my dear."
With that, he whipped out his iPhone and his fingers scrolled down. A few taps, followed by a smug look.
"Oops, I replied yes," Arahabaki said.